still voting for more than 80 years Iva Dee Bondurant has never missed an opportunity to cast her vote

By NIKKI ROWELL,

Americans made their way to the polls last week to have their voices heard in the midterm election.

Iva Dee Bondurant, a 102-year-old resident of Ridgeland, was no different, as she said taking part in the election was her civic duty.

She made her way to her polling place on Highland Colony Parkway with her 97-year-old sister Doris.

The Philadelphia native said she has participated in every election since she was able to vote.

“I don’t think I’ve missed one,” she said. “I’ve always voted. Whenever I was able to vote, I registered, and I’ve been voting ever since.”

Bondurant credits her father for instilling in her a love of politics. Her father served on the board of aldermen in her hometown and later was elected to the House of Representatives for one term.

She stresses the importance of getting out and participating in elections.

“Those in politics, they make the rules for our lives,” she said. “It’s important to know what’s going on and the direction our country is going. I’m thankful every day that I was born in America. So, I just feel like it’s my civic duty. I think it’s important. I can’t criticize if I didn’t vote.”

Bondurant also says it’s important to research candidates and make an informed decision.

“I’m always for someone with high values in the way you live, the way you react to people,” she said. “I think all people need to be represented. Everybody deserves to be heard.”

“Study hard, live a clean life and have faith,” she added. “The Bible tells us, there remains faith, hope – things aren’t always pleasant, but you can always hope for a better day tomorrow – and love. Under those conditions and those beliefs, you will have a wonderful life. I don’t feel like I can complain about a thing to live to be 102 and to live with my husband for 72 years. We had a wonderful marriage. It’s just been a great life.”

 

She moved to the Jackson area when her husband’s health began to decline so that she would have the help of her two sons.

Her husband, John, lived to be 100. They were married for 72 years.

“They were wonderful years,” she said. “I have to give the Lord credit for me to live this long. He must have had a reason for it. But I never smoked and don’t use alcohol. I’ve always eaten right. I did all my cooking.”

She said when her husband developed a heart condition, his doctor put him on a walking schedule to walk three miles each day.

“He said to get out and walk as fast as you can go that’s comfortable,” she said. “Of course, I walked with him and have been walking ever since.”

She credits her walking with keeping her healthy for so long. She still keeps up her walking routine, as she walks the halls on both floors of the Blake where she lives now.

“I’ve been blessed with good health and lived a happy, good life,” she said. “That’s the only reason I’m still here, I guess.”

Bondurant attended Mississippi Woman’s College, which is now William Carey, and majored in history.

She worked in the president’s office to help pay for college and took courses in stenography.

After college, she began working for the Work Progress Administration in Hattiesburg, which was founded in 1935 as a part of Roosevelt’s New Deal.

“I was interviewing people to see if they needed a work card,” she said. “You can’t imagine how that was back in the ‘30s, but that’s what I did.”

She and her husband met at a hotel in Forest while both visiting for work. For their first date, they went to the March of Dimes program at the local school.

There wasn’t much to do in their area, so she said much of their time was spent talking and getting to know each other.

“We had a two-and-a-half-year courtship before we married,” she said. “Back then, you were drafted into the Army you know, and his number was coming up fast.”

The couple married in May of 1941. In December of 1941, Pearl Harbor was struck by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service.

That year, her husband traveled all over the country in the service, and Bondurant followed.

“I followed him around until he went overseas,” she said. “He was overseas for about a year and a half.”

When he went overseas, she had to drive home from California.

“There was another woman coming this way too,” she said. “She had a one-year-old. So, we convoyed. She led, and I followed. It took us a week to get to Philadelphia.”

Bondurant said they were only able to drive 35 miles per hour. Gasoline was also being rationed.

“We went through the war years like that, and I worked in Philadelphia and stayed there until he got out of service,” she said.

They eventually settled in Forrest where they lived for 58 years.

She looks back on the years she spent raising her children as the best years of her life.

“They never gave us any trouble,” she said. “It’s the greatest thrill in the world. My life revolved around them as they were growing up.”

She has two sons, four grandsons and three great-grandchildren. She is expecting a fourth great-grandchild this month.